James Webster is the Goldwin Smith Professor of Music at Cornell University. He specializes in the history and theory of music of the 18th and 19th centuries, with a particular focus on Haydn. He is the author of Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony and the Idea of Classical Style: Through-Composition and Cyclic Integration in his Instrumental Music (Cambridge, 1991), and an editor of Haydn Studies (Norton, 1981), Johannes Brahms Autographs (Garland, 1983), and Opera Buffa in Mozart's Vienna (Cambridge, 1997). He has published widely on Haydn (including the Haydn article in the revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, also published as a separate volume (Macmillan/Palgrave), Mozart (especially his operas), Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms, as well as editorial and performance practice, and the historiography of music. His critical edition of the string quartets Opp. 42, 50, and 54–55 recently appeared in the complete edition, Joseph Haydn: Werke (Henle). In theory he specializes in issues of musical form, Schenkerian analysis, and analytical methodology. He was a founding editor of the journal Beethoven Forum.
Among Webster's many honors are the Einstein and Kinkeldey Awards of the American Musicological Society, a Fulbright dissertation grant, two Senior Research Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Research Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany). He has served as President of the American Musicological Society, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Executive Committee (Vorstand) of the Board of Directors of the Joseph Haydn Institute (Cologne).